Site Feedback

Resolved questions
The alarm goes off = start to ring ??

 

Hello....

I'm a little bit confused & can't get, why we say '' the alarm goes off '' when it '' turns on'' & it ''goes on '' when in'' turns off'' !!

Additional Details:

Thank you in advance.......

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language

Share:

0 comments

    Please enter between 2 and 2000 characters.

     

    Answers

    Sort by:

    Best Answer - Chosen by the Asker
    We also say that a gun "goes off" when it fires a bullet or that a bomb "goes off" when it explodes. I am fairly sure "the alarm goes off" came directly from that usage (makes a sudden loud noise).

    I cannot say for sure, but I have a a theory about the origin that makes sense to me. However, it is just a guess and I cannot say for certain this is why we say ""off" in that context:

    When a ship leaves port, we say that it "sets off" to sea. It is "off" of the land and "on" the water. This has long ago been generalized so that any time somebody takes a trip or a journey (even if not by sea), we might say that they "set off" or "go off" on a trip.

    When somebody has a sudden emotional outburst (usually in anger), we might say "Bob went off on Sally" to describe Bob angrily yelling at her. I believe this came from "go off" on a trip usage - Bob is not on a literal voyage, but an emotional one. However, Bob's behavior is also "off" from expectations of social propriety, so it is possible it is not related to the usage at all. It might also be related to the bomb "going off" as an explosion.

    I suspect that "the alarm goes off" and "the gun goes off" are related to one or both of these uses of "goes off." Again, I do not know for sure if that is where it came from, but it makes sense to me.

    Bombs and alarms can "go off". It is not exactly correct to say an alarm "turns off", but rather an alarm is turned off (passive voice). These are phrasal verbs, so do not make any assumptions about a connection between "on" or "off".

    Submit your answer


    Please enter between 2 and 2000 characters.

    If you copy this answer from another italki answer page, please state the URL of where you got your answer from.